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UNT Insider | January 2011 issue | UNT awards $50,000 to top three student entrepreneurs

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UNT awards $50,000 to top three student entrepreneurs

From a UNT News Service press release

UNT New Ventures

You may soon have the opportunity to enjoy an All-American breakfast -- in cupcake form -- thanks to the winners of UNT's 2010 New Venture Creation Contest.

Le'Neisha Brooks and Tiffani Johnson won first place in UNT's annual contest for their start-up, Cakes Couture. The duo received the award, which came with $25,000, at the annual BDO USA, LLP Leadership Luncheon in November. Other finalists received awards of $15,000 and $10,000.

Brooks, a graduate student in UNT's School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management, and Johnson, of Houston, currently operate from a rented kitchen, but would like to open a storefront in the Galleria Mall in Houston later this year. Their business plan says that they will offer a variety of cupcakes, specialty cakes and other gourmet items. Their offerings will include breakfast cupcakes made with All-American breakfast items such as pancakes and bacon.

"We plan to use the funding that we received from the New Venture Creation Contest to grow the Cakes Couture brand. We also plan to acquire efficient equipment and supplies for our company," Brooks says. "We hope to make the Murphy Center proud of its decision to award Cakes Couture first place in this year's competition."

Second place went to Stephen Andrews, who owns Imported Performance, an e-commerce website specializing in automotive performance parts. Andrews, a senior in the UNT's College of Business, received $15,000 for his company. Andrews says that he hopes to use the money to open a brick-and-mortar store in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, rebuild the website and launch a motor sports division.

Third place went to Yianni Arestis and Bobby Mullins. The duo hopes to use their $10,000 prize to open Denton's first brewery and restaurant, Armadillo Ale Works. Arestis and Mullins hope to open in the downtown Denton area by the end of 2011. Arestis is a graduate student in UNT's College of Business and Mullins is a 2007 graduate of UNT's Department of Radio, Television and Film.

The New Venture Creation Contest is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. Teams must include at least one full-time UNT student.

The contest is sponsored by the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship. The center is housed in UNT's College of Business and opened its doors in 2000 with a $1 million donation from Ken and the late Shirley Murphy, founders and owners of The Mail Box. The center encourages entrepreneurship by providing students with business counseling, mentoring and training opportunities that help them turn ideas into viable business entities.

Alyssa Yancey with UNT News Service can be reached at Alyssa.Yancey@unt.edu.

Read other stories in this issue:

January 2011

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